The Grand Commander, who was just beneath the abbot in rank, was the one who received most of the abbey's revenues. He kept the accounts, noting revenues and expenses separately. Normally, the fiscal year began on July 22, which is the feast of Saint Mary Magdalen, and ended on the same date the following year.

Since the French Revolution, the account books of the abbey of Saint-Denis have been in France's National Archives in Paris. Although it contains gaps, this documentation is a very rich source of information. The extract given here is from the expenses, and concerns the abbey and the monastic borough. The text is in two columns and is written in Latin. A literal translation of the text is not easy : often, the rather laconic entries list merely the object of the expense and the amount paid. Sometimes the name of the recipient is listed. The scribe used a vocabulary that was a mix of classical Latin, medieval Latin and French, whether latinised or not. The spelling varies considerably.

Hand-written account book on parchment from the Saint-Denis commandery, 1290-1291. (Archives nationales, LL 1240, f° 11 H)

© Archives nationales.


Expensa de facturis in villa.

Pro domo Sarraceni reparare per Johannem presbiterum, XXXVIII s., IIII d.

Pro domo de molendino reparare, XX s., IIII d.

Pro domo Pescheveron reparare, XVIII s., VII d.

Pro domo lotricis conventus tam in operibus quam in tegula, CXVI s.

Pro porta monasterii, XIIII lb., VIII s.

Pro cupro pro eadem porta, VII lb., XVIII s.

Pro asseribus secandis, L s

Pro logiis antiquorum reparare, XXX s.

Pro camera antiquorum et camera ibi [sic] ponuntur armature, XV s., X d.

Pro sarreuris et vairoliis pro domo posterne, XVI s.

Pro gracili carceris de balneria, XXXVIII s.

Pro muro faciendo ante domum magistri Roberti, XXXV s.

Pro scambio et pro aliis domibus reparare per prepositos, XLV s., VIII d.

Pro pilariis ante Sanctum Clementem faciendis, IIII lb., XVI s.

Pro magna aula de infirmariis cooperire et reparare, CXII s.

Pro porta de granchia ante cameram subprioris, XXXIIII s., VI d.

Pro stabulo preceptoris, capitulo et in multis aliis locis reparandis per abbaciam, XLVIII s., IX d.

Pro tibia lignearii de hospicio, stabulo et aliis multis minutis, LXX s., VI d.

Pro scriptorio fratris Guillelmi Surdi, XXVIII s., VI d. et pro lambrussio, VII s.

Pro camino camere domini Richardi de Pontisara, XLVIII s., VIII d.

Pro la tremuie camere nostre et aliis faciendis, XXV s., III d.

Pro garneriis de hospicio cooperiendis, reparandis et pro gouteriis, VI lb., XII s.

Pro chaaliz facere et cooperire super cameram

Pro domo Sarraceni reparare per fratrem Johannem, XXXVIII s.

Pro muro de infirmariis facere, LII s.

Pro domo socii nostri de Sancto Lazaro, LXIII s., VI d.

Pro le puignon de dormitorio, III lb., XVI d.

Pro gradu de aula regis, IIII lb., IIII s.

Item pro predicto gradu, per fratrem Petrum, LIIII s.

Pro camera subprioris cooperire et aliis facere, LIIII s., VI d.

Pro ligneario Secane, stabulo domini abbatis et multis aliis, XXXVII s.

Pro cooperire super dormitorium et alibi, XXI s., III d.

Pro cruce de Panteria, XXVI lb. et pro pictura.

Pro stabulo hospitum ulmo reparare, ortum domini abbatis reficere cum duabus scalis, XXXV s.

Pro trubeto ad portandum caput beati Dyonisii, VIII s.

Pro aula domini abbatis cooperire et reparare, XXVIII s., VI d.

Pro granchia de Marcheyo reparare et cooperire, XIIII lb., XVII s.

Pro prisione cooperienda et reparanda, LIIII s.

Pro stabulo magistri prioris, stabulo de hospicio et multis aliis, LV s.

Pro multis minutis per abbatiam faciendis, per fratrem Petrum, XLVIII s., VIII d.

Et per fratrem Johannem, LXX s.

Pro yranea camere preceptoris ponere, VIII s.

Magistro Roberto L'Eschacier pro merreno porte de l'Estré et pro pena, XII s.

Pro le pignon de dormitorio et lambrussio de eodem et pro pena carpentarie et merreno, LXX s.

Pro portare IIIC et dimidium circulorum et ducere ad abbatiam, VII s.

Pro granchia Buorde sustinere et reparare, XVI s.

Pro circulum ducere de Chalevanne ad abbaciam, XIIII s., VIII d.

Pro ingenio super votas monasterii, XXXIII s., VIII d.

Summa, VIIIxx Ib., V s, I d.


Expenses for work in (the territory of) the town.

For repairs to the Saracen house, to Jean the priest, 38 s., 4 d.

For repairs to the mill-house, 20 s., 4 d.

For repairs to the Pescheveron house, 18 s., 7 d.

For the wash house of the convent, as much for work as for roof tiles, 116 s.

For the door of the church, 14 £, 8 s.

For copper for this door, 7 £, 18 s.

For sawing rafters, 50 s.

For repairs to the seniors' lodging, 30 s.

For the room of the seniors and the room in which the armour is stored, 15 s., 10 d.

For bolts and locks for the postern house, 16 s.

For gracili carceris of the baths, 38 s.

For building a wall in front of Master Robert's house, 35 s.

For replacement and for repairing other houses, to the prepositors, 45 s., 8 d.

For erecting pillars before(the) Saint-Clément (chapel), 4 £, 16 s.

For roofing over and repairing the large room of the infirmaries, 112 s.

For the door of the barn, in front of the room of the subprior, 34 s., 6 d.

For repairs to the stable of the preceptor, to the chapter house, and to many other places in the abbey, 48 s., 9 d.

For creating a jamb for the guest-quarters woodshed, , the stable and many other (works), 70 s., 6 d.

For the scriptorium of Brother William Sourd, 28 s., 6 d., and for the panelling, 7 s.

For the fireplace in the room of lord Richard de Pontoise, 48 s., 8 d.

For fashioning the hearth in our room and others (works), 25 s., 3 d.

For the roofing and repair of the attics in the guest-quarters, and for the gutters, 6 £, 12 s.

For making bedsteads and covering the room in the hospice, 28 s., 6 d.

For repairs to the house of the Sarrasin, to brother Jean, 38 s.

For making the wall of the infirmaries, 52 s.

For the house of our associate from Saint-Lazare, 68 s., 6 d.

For the dormitory gable, 4 £, 16 s.

For the staircase of the king's chamber, 4 £, 4 s.

Ditto, for the above-mentioned staircase, to brother Pierre, 54 s.

For roofing the room of the sub-prior, and to carry out other (works), 54 s., 6 d.

For the Seine woodshed, the stable of the lord abbot and many other (works), 37 s.

For covering the dormitory and other places, 21 s., 3 d.

For the cross at the (place) Panetière, 26 £ And for painting (it).

For repairing the guest stables with elmwood, remaking the lord abbot's garden with two levels, 35 s.

For a stretcher to carry the head of saint Denis, 8 s.

For roofing and repairing the lord abbot's room, 28 s., 6 d.

For repairing and roofing over the market barn, 14 £, 17 s.

For covering and repairing the prison, 54 s.

For the stable of the master prior, the guest-quarter stables and many other (things), 55 s.

For carrying out many small (works) in the abbey, to brother Pierre, 48 s., 8 d.

And to brother Jean, 70 s.

For fitting the windows of the preceptor's room with iron bars, 8 s.

To master Robert l'Echacier for wood for the Estrée gate and for the labour, 12 s.

For the dormitory gable and the panelling of the latter; for the carpentry work and the wood, 70 s.

For carrying 350 (barrel) hoops and bringing (them) to the abbey, 7 s.

For supporting and repairing the Buhort barn, 16 s.

For bringing (barrel) hoops from Chalevanne to the abbey, 14 s., 8 d.

For a (hoisting) device on the vaults of the church, 34 s., 8 d.

Total 160 £, 5 s., 1 d.